27 Best Songs From 1954

1954 was a time of many great musicians, like Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, and The Drifters. And of course, these talented artists produced many great songs.

Here are some examples of the best songs from 1954.

“Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets

Rock ‘n roll wasn’t always considered good music, which is why the success of “Rock Around the Clock” was so revolutionary. As sung by Bill Haley and His Comets, the song became the first rock ‘n roll record to reach the top of North American and British pop charts.

Its success wasn’t limited to 1954. The 12-bar blues rhythm it used was so catchy that it became the signature tune for Haley and His Comets. It was still popular in 1956.

“Little Things Mean A Lot” by Kitty Kallen

“Little Things Mean A Lot” was written by Edith Linderman and Carl Stutz. It’s a song many people don’t remember, but it's important to any discussion of good music from 1954 because it was named the best song of 1954.

It was a runaway success in North America and Britain. Kitty Kallen sang the most recognizable version, but several other artists capitalized on its success and did versions themselves, including:

  • Alma Cogan
  • Joni James
  • Margo Smith

 “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” by Joe Turner

Jesse Stone wrote “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” for Joe Turner at the suggestion of Ahmet Ertegun.

Stone played with different phrases he thought would suit Turner, already distinctive for his bluesy wailing vocalizations.

Stone settled on “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” as the phrase that would do Turner the most justice. But it wasn’t the first time it got used by a composer as a song refrain with verve. It also has a long vaudevillian and ragtime tradition.

But whereas Stone wrote about dancing to the beat, the vaudevillian ragtime song was about gambling and dice.

“Goodnite Sweetheart” by The Spaniels

Calvin Carter and James “Pookie” Hudson wrote “Goddnite Sweetheart” in 1951. But it wasn’t picked up and recorded until The Spaniels got hold of it in 1953.

After that, it was an American favorite. The Spaniels’ doo-wop version of the melody was especially prevalent and was one of the most-played jukebox selections by 1954.

Other versions were recorded by:

  • The McGuire Sisters
  • Johnnie and Jack
  • Sunny Gale

 “Make Love to Me” by Jo Stafford

A staple of good music from 1954 is jazz music, and Jo Stafford was an integral part of that musical landscape. She’s best known for “Haunted Heart,” but here she sings the fast-paced and upbeat “Make Love to Me.”

What stands out about this song is the number of musicians involved in its collaboration. Most songs have one or two artists behind them, but “Make Love to Me” was written not only by Bill Norvas and Alan Copeland but also by all five New Orleans Rhythm Kings.

That’s because while the lyrics were original, the melody came from The New Orleans Rhythm Kings' earlier composition, “Tin Roof Blues.”

“Three Coins In The Fountain” by The Four Aces

Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn wrote the music and lyrics respectively, for “Three Coins In The Fountain.” The song was supposed to be the musical centerpiece of a film of the same title. Accordingly, Styne and Cahn were encouraged to make the song suit the film.

The only catch was that they couldn’t watch the film or read the script. Famously, they wrote the song in an hour.

Although Sinatra sang the song for the film, it was The Four Aces' rendition of “Three Coins In A Fountain” that became one of the best songs of 1954.

“That’s All Right” by Elvis Presley with Scotty and Bill

“That’s All Right” started as a blues hit. Arthur Crudup recorded it, and when the record was finally issued in 1949, it had the distinction of being what many consider the first rock ‘n roll record. It also features the first guitar solo.

That was in 1949. In 1953, while recording another album, Elvis Presley decided he’d do a version of “That’s All Right.” He sang the song between recording takes, and his talent for rockabilly got him noticed.

“That’s All Right,” sung by Presley became a record in its own right. Suddenly, “That’s All Right” was one of the best songs of 1954. But although Presley credited Crudup as the composer, the other man never received royalties for Presley’s more successful recording.

“Earth Angel” by The Penguins

The Penguins sang “Earth Angel” on their debut album, and it quickly became one of the best songs of 1954.

It was The Penguins’ one significant musical hit, and interestingly, they never recorded an official version. When “Earth Angel” was first released, the plan was to overdub the demo with more instrumentation. But the demo was so wildly successful that that never happened.

It was so popular that many other artists recorded cover versions, including:

  • The Crew-Cuts
  • Gloria Mann
  • Tiny Tim
  • Johnny Tillotson

“Secret Love” by Doris Day

 You can’t talk about good music from 1954 without mentioning Doris Day. Day had many hits, but one of the best-known from this year was “Secret Love.”

Sammy Faln and Paul Francis Webster wrote the song for Calamity Jane, where Day sang and acted her way through the lead role/

Day found the song deeply moving, and it suited her. When she went to rehearse with the orchestra, her first run-through of the song was so remarkable that it became the recording the film used.

“White Christmas” by The Drifters

The Drifters were another artistic group that sang some of the best songs of 1954. That said, some were more likely than others.

We don’t often think of “White Christmas” performed by anyone besides Irving Berlin. But in 1954, The Drifters produced a version that took the world by storm.

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One Comment

  1. One thought, Three Coins In The Fountain, (The Sinatra Version) was part of a deal between Ava Gardner (Sinatra’s second wife) and the studio to help Frank get his legendary role in the movie FROM HERE TO ETERNITY! Sinatra was nominated for an Oscar for that Film!

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